"Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. And we need a live... is it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse of Jose's glove."
~Crash, of Bull Durham fame (go rent it)
Athletes, actors, musicians, fire-swallowing baton twirlers .... all guilty. Somehow the nature of performance breeds superstition. Perhaps it's because there is something unexplainable and magical that happens when you play the game of your life, when you hit the high C, or when you breath dynamic life into your character. We're all looking for why, of all attempts, this was the one we hit out of the park. And frankly... we're looking for why all the other at-bats were pathetic ground-outs.
We live in a world where even getting it right and being seemingly perfect for the part does not guarantee that you'll book. In fact, most of the time you won't. Most of the time, you'll walk away wondering what you could have done better, or just differently, that could have been the difference between: "Hello, my name is Anony and I haven't filmed anything for two months" and "Hey Anony, I saw your new Turbo Tax commercial yesterday... and also five times today." (Despite the fact that everyone and their poodle auditioned for that one, I thought I booked it. I was sure. They were sure. Then the higher-ups decided to use "non-actors" and ruled out anyone with IMDB credits. It's my temporary personal opinion that those higher-ups are stupid.)
But at least with that one I knew what happened. And the other 99.99999% of the time? It's deafening, confidence-smothering, soul-crushing radio silence. It's waiting by my phone for days, keeping it on vibrate when I know it should be on silent but there's absolutely no way I can miss a call. It's heart attacks at the sight of unknown numbers on my caller ID. It's endless picturing of what life would be like with this credit to my name... followed by accepting the picture of my life without it.
Then it's replaying the audition in my head more times than KIIS FM plays the latest Katy Perry single, desperately searching for the moment where it went "wrong" so that I can have an explanation. It can't be because I'm not the right look; the breakdown could pass as my physical description in a missing persons report after I've gone AWOL when I've had enough of this torture we call a career. It can't be because I'm not good enough; not only do I know I am, but my coach has said I'm one of his best students and the casting director for the last commercial I booked called me exceptional. Can't be that I smell bad... I mean, I shower regularly. What the hell is it, then??!
Ahhh, it must be because I didn't wear my lucky shirt.
That's why most people buy into the superstition... "I didn't book because I told people about the audition before I went." "I didn't book because it's that casting office, and I just can't get arrested there." "I didn't book because it was Friday the 13th." Crash also says, "If you believe you're playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you're wearing women's underwear, then you are!" (Suuuch a great movie.)
Well sorry Crash, and I'm sorry if this is a shock to the rest of you... but none of those have ever been the reason why someone didn't book. (And for god's sake... don't wear women's underwear unless you're a woman.) They're all just things we tell ourselves so we can feel safe knowing that there was something that caused our perfect audition to go unnoticed. And what's more, we can then recreate the circumstances of a booking -- i.e. using a "lucky" shirt -- to give us a false sense of control.
But you're better than that. Don't get caught up in the extra energy it takes to worry about wearing a lucky shirt, and the inevitable and hugely counterproductive panic when it's dirty and unwearable on the day of a big audition. You'll start to do the worst thing possible.... buy into your own bullshit and lose jobs because you were focused on the mojo you think you don't have because it's attached to your missing lucky underpants. I once had a friend and roommate who freaked out at me for not putting my Christmas decorations away by "twelfth night," a transgression that would have given all of us bad luck for the entire year. She had also recently had a panic attack. I rest my case.
So on this Friday the 13th, when everyone else is staying in because they've convinced themselves that something bad is going to happen... go out there and book your first pilot.